Adviser to the Darien Scheme
By WAFER, Lionel , 1699

A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America.

Travel & Voyages
  • Author: WAFER, Lionel
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed for James Knapton, at the Crown in St Pauls Church-yard
  • Publication date: 1699.
  • Physical description: First edition, 8vo (178 by 110mm), viii, 224, [xiv] pp., [2pp. adverts], title within double ruled border, folding engraved map, three folding engraved plates, contemporary panelled calf, one plate holed, one plate with caption shaved.
  • Inventory reference: 11882


“One of the best accounts of the Isthmus of Panama, its natural resources, and the native Indians” (Hill).

Lionel Wafer (1640–1705) was a Welsh explorer, buccaneer and privateer. A ship’s surgeon, Wafer made several voyages to the Pacific and voyaged to Southeast Asia in 1676. The following year he moved to Jamaica, and in 1679 was approached by two noted buccaneers named Captain John Cook and Linen, who convinced him to become a surgeon for their fleet. In 1680, Wafer met William Dampier at Cartagena and joined in a privateering venture under the leadership of Captain Bartholomew Sharp.

After a quarrel during the overland journey, Wafer was marooned with four others in the Isthmus of Darien in Panama, where he stayed with the Cuna Indians. He gathered information about their culture, including their shamanism and a short vocabulary of their language; and studied the natural history of the isthmus. The following year, Wafer left the Indians promising to return and marry the chief’s sister and bring back dogs from England. Wafer reunited with Dampier, and after privateering with him on the Spanish Main until 1688, he settled in Philadelphia. By 1690 Wafer was back in England and in 1695 he published ‘A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America’ – the present work – which described his adventures. It was translated into French (1706), German (1759), and Swedish (1789).

The Darien Company hired Wafer as an adviser when it was planning its settlement on the isthmus in 1698.


  1. Sabin 100940.
  2. Hill (2004) 1796
  3. Wing W193

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